Turn on the television at any given time of the day and there's a good chance you'll be inundated with programming that includes people screaming at each other, taking their clothes off and bragging about their latest sexual adventures. As adults, America's latest pastime may be watching the misery and debauchery of others unfold on the screen and in magazines, but it's not exactly the way we should be letting our children spend their time.
As the mother, sister and wife of Cub and Boy Scouts, I've witnessed first-hand what turning off the television and encouraging your sons to get involved in something great can do for them.
Since 1910, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been teaching boys from first grade through the age of 18 to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
More than 40,000 scout troops across the country do this by "combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun." Anyone present at Cub Scout Pack 226's Pinewood Derby last Saturday surely found that to be true.
This annual event tought boys the values of creativity, hard work and good sportsmanship. Before race day, each participant carved, sanded and painted a small block of wood, turning it into a vehicle with which to compete against his fellow pack members.
As the boys took turns racing their cars down the wooden ramps, I watched them congratulate their fellow scouts on their victories and also console them on their losses. It was a common and heartwarming sight to see one boy pat another on the back for his efforts as one by one they were eliminated from the derby.
As today's society seems to be lacking in the fundamental morals of our forefathers, as a parent it is reassuring to know that there are still time-proven institutions where one can turn to for guidance. I firmly believe the BSA is one of those lighthouses of morality in a sea of debauchery.
"The BSA believes, and through over a century of experience, knows that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society." (scouting.org). Scouting is also a faith-based organization, holding "duty to God" as one of its key foundations and believing children benefit from having a moral compass in their lives. My son's scout pack makes sure to close their meetings with a prayer each week.
As the boys learn valuable skills at meetings, they also participate in many outdoor activities throughout the year learning how to build fires, cook and respect nature. Merit badges are distributed to the young men to proudly be displayed on their uniforms, but only after working hard to earn them. This shows the scouts that hard work pays off; that rewards have to be earned, not just handed out; and allows them to take pride in their accomplishments and a job well done.
Throughout scouting's 100-year history, many notable and high-achieving Americans have first learned the important life skills necessary for success. Corporate CEOs, military leaders, Olympic athletes and U.S. Presidents have been Boy Scouts, including the first Eagle Scout to be president, Gerald Ford. Other famous scouts include Neil Armstrong, H. Ross Perot, Donald Rumsfeld, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King Jr., Paul McCartney and John F. Kennedy.
If you've been thinking about getting involved with scouting, I encourage you to do so. It is a worthwhile organization and proves itself by the integrity of its members. Scouting builds strong character. In other words, scouting equals success.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.